Orin Swift “Saldo” Zinfandel 2009

Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel Cork


80% Zinfandel, 9% Petite Sirah,  8% Syrah, 3% Grenache



  • Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a sucker for a good wine label; but this one is….well…minimalistic to say the least! I do have to say though, I am a fan.
    You won’t find this fact on the website, however I have it under good authority that Orin Swift were so stuck for ideas on the label for the Saldo, that they just started messing around with an old school label-maker in their office. Et Voila! The Saldo label was born!


  • Owner/winemaker at Orin Swift Dave Phinney is probably better known for The Prisoner, his Californian “kitchen sink” blend.


  • Something else I heard: this year, Orin Swift are doing the new vintage release of The Prisoner on Alcatraz! Now THAT’S a wine release party! Clearly my invite got lost in the mail…

  • Saldo" supposedly has many meanings, but in Spanish it mainly refers to "balance on hand", and can sometimes mean "from here and there."  It stands to reason then that the grapes are sourced from “here and there” all over California!


  • There’s a 25,505 case production (not bottles, CASES!) on the 2009 Saldo Zinfandel, and I guarantee it will STILL sell-out!

Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel


  • The Saldo bears a simple “California” appellation for good reason. The grapes are sourced from prime vineyards in Sonoma, Napa, Lake County, Amador, Mendocino, and Contra Costa. Since the wine isn’t from any one-site in particular, the label may only bear the California designation.


  • By Californian wine law, the Saldo only barely classifies to be named a Zinfandel. 75% is the minimum percentage of grapes in a bottle in order for the wine to be allowed to bear the name of the grape on the label (for a straight California designation at least). Any lower than that, and the wine must bear its own proprietary lingo, such as Conundum by Caymus, Insignia by Joseph Phelps or The Prisoner by Orin Swift.


  • Zinfandel has a relatively high sugar content compared to other grapes, and is therefore the main reason it’s used in the production of White Zinfandel. When it comes to sugar-content in grapes, winemakers have the option to either make a sweeter wine, or just use all that sugar in the fermentation process, and convert it into alcohol. For this reason, red Zin’s usually have a higher alcohol than other red Californian wines.


  • Zinfandel is the #2 most widely planted red grape in California (right behind Cabernet). It’s considered California’s grape, even though it originated in Croatia.

Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel..


Light in body, subtle, restrained and delicate; the Orin Swift Saldo shows……ok…….just kidding! But I had you going for a moment there, didn’t I?!?! If you’ve had The Prisoner before, the Saldo will be right up your alley!

A solid red and black fruit mix on the nose. There’s a lot going-on on the palate, with dried cranberries, boiled-down raspberries, blackcurrant, leather, and bitter-sweet chocolate. Not as jammy as I expected. Plenty of power in the form of tannins, with oak interwoven, and hanging in for the finish forever-and-a-day. Drinkable now (with some aeration), but would benefit from some time in the cellar to let all those flavors come together.



Go big or go home! By that I mean don’t try pairing this wine with jasmine and saffron scented risotto; or the Saldo will just punch it in the face, and laugh about it afterwards!
At 15.5% alcohol; ribs, hanger steak, roasted lamb chops, burger with bacon and BBQ sauce, or a good cigar, should all be able to stand up to this powerful Zin!




Around $30

Orin Swift Saldo Zinfandel. In the glass, with tears.

Be first to comment